Verizon IndyCar Series

VICS: Power Perfection In Texas Qualifying Friday

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Early in his Verizon IndyCar Series career, reigning points champion Will Power’s dominance over a single lap in qualification trim was mainly witnessed on road and street courses. It has only been recently that has this form has translated to the high speed oval tracks as well, where his employer Team Penske has famously ruled as evidenced by 16 victories in the Indianapolis 500 alone, including this year’s edition.

The scene of the team’s latest oval track exhibition was not Indy, but perhaps the second most important oval on the open wheel scheduling slate: the Texas Motor Speedway, where Power and Penske showed they have a definite leg up on the remainder of the current full time fleet as the Australian snatched his third Verizon P1 Award of 2015 and his third consecutive pole position for the Firestone 600, which will take the green flag on Saturday night. Although not under the lights in qualifying mode Friday afternoon, the resulting starting grid looks much like it has for most of the campaign so far, the first for the new manufacturer-specific aerodynamic kits where Chevrolet (which powers Team Penske) has had a clear edge on rival Honda.

Power earned the top honors Friday with a two-lap average run at 218.519 MPH over the 1.5 mile quad oval layout, with Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud lining up alongside him on the front line for Saturday night. Helio Castroneves made it a 1-2-3 result and will start from the inside of row two. As was the case at the Indianapolis 500 last month, Juan Pablo Montoya was the slowest of the four Penske runners, however he will start fifth on Saturday as opposed to 15th last month when he charged to an eventual win.

While Chevrolet as mentioned has been the package to have so far, Honda appears more competitive at least based on qualifying numbers in its second attempt on an oval in 2015. Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport will start fourth on Saturday, while Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal will begin the Firestone 600 from sixth place on the grid.

After claiming the pole position at Indy, Chip Ganassi Racing was slightly off the preferred pace on Friday as the squad filled out rows four and five. Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan will start from the fourth line, while Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam will roll off from the fifth row.

Practice and qualifying Friday at Texas Motor Speedway went completely from start to finish with just one incident, as Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay found the turn one wall, but did not suffer injury. The 2014 Indy 500 champion bounced back to qualify 21st for Saturday night’s event. The day at Texas was better when compared to the multiple airborne crashes seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to race day itself. IndyCar Series officials have made changes to the design of the aero kits for Texas, focusing on the rear wheel guards that prevent cars from launching into the air off of others. Originally the guards featured an air flow opening since their debut in 2012, however starting this weekend for ovals only, the openings have been sealed off. Officials were concerned that the openings were a cause of cars getting airborne whilst spinning backwards at Indy, an issue that occurred four times during practice, but not during the 500 itself. The change seems to have been successful as although Ryan Hunter-Reay slid backwards after contact with the barriers, the car remained on all four wheels.

Stay tuned to Rubbings Racing for a full recap of the Firestone 600 after the race on Saturday night.

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About Matt Embury

Matt Embury is the Senior SportsCar Writer at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@MattEmbury) for the latest sports car news and opinions. A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, he has been following sports car racing for nearly 20 years.

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